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Living Car Free Do you live car free or car light? Do you prefer to use alternative transportation (bicycles, walking, other human-powered or public transportation) for everyday activities whenever possible? Discuss your lifestyle here.

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Old 06-25-05, 10:36 PM   #1
Platy
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Public transit as part of the carfree equation

Besides bikes, what kind of alternative transportation do you use?

Every bus in my town has a bike rack that holds two bikes. It's incredibly convenient to be able to count on every bus having a rack. The only problem is that sometimes the rack is full, but that's been rare so far.

I carry a list of taxi numbers in my wallet just in case, but in over two years I've never needed to call one.

I fly on airlines just like everyone else. The only difference is that when I get there I tend to use whatever public transit is available instead of renting a car. There's a learning curve to using bus & rail confidently and it usually takes me only about an hour to figure out how to use the public transit in a city. Most medium size or larger cities usually have some kind of useable system, even if most of the locals don't know about it.
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Old 06-26-05, 12:33 AM   #2
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My family uses some form of public transportation maybe 2-3 times a year. We travel by means other than bike or foot once a month or less.
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Old 06-26-05, 01:25 AM   #3
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In Ottawa we have bike racks on the main bus routes, and you can just walk a bike on our light rail. I use busses about once a month March-November, and a mix of bike ans bus in the winter (didn't biek much last winter, will do so this year). I rarely use a cab, mostly to get the cats to/from the vet.

I also use delivery services a lot. Every two or three weeks we do a huge grocery and stock up on non-perishables, $6.00CAD flat rate gets that delievred. I do a lot of my shopping on-line too, most Canadian retailers ship, many for free.

Being car-free, for us, involves a variety of services, and of course good old walking.
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Old 06-26-05, 05:12 AM   #4
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Here in the Hampton Roads area, in order to get across all the water from Norfolk where I live to Hampton where I work, it's either the LONG way around (over 60 miles if I hit a ferry, or well over a 160 If I go to Richmond and back, take a ferry in Porstmouth wich still leaves a good 70 mile ride or take the Bus acrsoss the bridge tunnel (we have many, all offlimit to bicycles) and then get back on my bike, for a nice 11 mile commute each way, not really a tough desicion, but it does kinda stink to have to rely on the busses for work.
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Old 06-26-05, 05:58 AM   #5
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After years of me calling the bus company and suggesting they get racks on their buses, they finally did it a couple years ago. The CARTA bus system for years touted their environmentally friendly image, some of it deserved since they have been phasing out diesel buses in favor of electric, but it always struck me as silly not to have the racks. Anyway, now they have them and everything is perfect forever.
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Old 06-26-05, 07:34 AM   #6
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I use the bus/light rail system occasionally (three or four times a month, on average now) to supplement my biking, if I'm going somewhere where distance, time constraints, clothing issues or other factors somehow make the bike difficult to use.

Public transit in many cities--mine included--is far from perfect, but I actually like using it. I rode the bus (and walked!) a lot before I switched to biking, and still prefer it over driving a car. It's more relaxing. I use the time to read, usually.

Taxis are crazy expensive here, and I can't imagine using one except in some sort of dire emergency where there was truly no other option.
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Old 06-26-05, 09:01 AM   #7
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I probably use the train every other day. I moved near a train station about four months after I sold my car to make getting around easier. The Dallas area isn't very dense and somedays I'd end up doing 40 miles if I biked everywhere. 40 miles is no problem if I'm touring, but a bit much for me to fit in a normal day.

When I go into work I can bike 11 miles of nasty road from Irving to Highland Park, or I can take an 18 minute train ride into downtown and then bike 7.5 miles, 5 of which is on the Katy Trail MUP.

I have found that I use public transit less and less the longer I've been without a car. I think part of it is just being a stronger rider and the other is being more comfortable in traffic. Traffic doesn't stress me like it used to and I enjoy riding more.


I would urge anyone who is taking their bikes on public transit to be intimately acquainted with the rules regarding bikes for your area's public transit. In places like Dallas where transportation cycling is an anomoly, the bus drivers and transit police themselves may be ignorant of the rules concerning bikes. It isn't a terrible idea to print up the rules and keep them in your flat kit. I've had bus drivers who didn't know folders could be brought on buses during rush hours. I've had transit police tell me I couldn't bring a bike on the commuter train during rush hours. Both were simply ignorant about the rules. Luckily I'd done my homework--but more more passive people might have been dissuaded from using their bikes because of the ignorance of these "authorities."
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Old 06-26-05, 09:07 AM   #8
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I will either walk or ride, but I also use the train here too (once so far). I also belong to a car sharing network, so if I really need a car, I can just slot out a time to use it, then return the bike to its slot when I'm done.

When I travel to other countries, I use public transportation from the airport, but then it's a split between my bike and their train system once I get to my hostel or hotel.

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Old 06-26-05, 09:14 AM   #9
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Hi Anthony! Twenty five years ago I used to bike commute along the Mockingbird corridor from University Park to Stemmons at Empire Central. "Nasty road" is a pretty good characterization, that's fer sure. There were a few stretches of lightly traveled parallel streets, but not many.

I visited Dallas a couple of months ago and tried out the DART bus & rail routes, which came in after I moved away. It impressed me as overall a very nicely executed system, except that it is quite bike-unfriendly. It seems like it would be much better if they allowed roll-on / roll-off access for bikes on the trains and had bike racks on all the buses. And I don't see how it would be all that much more costly.
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Old 06-26-05, 09:23 AM   #10
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I use busses/subway at least once a week. Cabs are also something I use often enough. No doubt I would use them less if my gf was just as much of a cycling nut as I am.

I would certainly use it a lot more if it was more bike friendly... I really wish we had those bike racks on Montreal busses. We're also supposed to have cabs with bike racks in montreal, but whenever you mention bike, cabs avoid you like the pest.
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Old 06-26-05, 09:29 AM   #11
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Use it all the time..really expands the distance I can travel and ride in 100% daylight. that is about the only reason I use buses/trains..rarely do I use buses/trains w/o taking along my bike...for local errands, no need for buses, when my bike with its four panniers will carry a lot of stuff.
only time use trains and not have my bike in tow, when long distance out of town..last month, had an appointment in LA..could not face moving up the I-5 at 15 mph. took the train/subway / bus to the west side of LA. such a relief to not drive the 405. took about the same amount of time, since freeways don't move during rush hour.
and unlike last time we drove to LA for business, did not get one of those over-zealous cops give us a nuissancee $147 ticket for entering 'restricted ' neighborhoods; with very poor signage-causing us to enter this 'trap.'Made our trip cheap compared to that .
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Old 06-26-05, 03:50 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Platy
Hi Anthony! Twenty five years ago I used to bike commute along the Mockingbird corridor from University Park to Stemmons at Empire Central. "Nasty road" is a pretty good characterization, that's fer sure. There were a few stretches of lightly traveled parallel streets, but not many.
I think I'm sorta immune to traffice by now, but the one thing I can't handle is the ozone in the middle of the day. I get out of class at 12:30 and head to work, so it's peak time. I tried the ride once and 35 minutes into in my lungs were burning. Not the usual burning, but irritated burning and I noticed I was extremely tired the next morning. The Katy trails is flocked by trees, so you get some shade and better air.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Platy
I visited Dallas a couple of months ago and tried out the DART bus & rail routes, which came in after I moved away. It impressed me as overall a very nicely executed system, except that it is quite bike-unfriendly. It seems like it would be much better if they allowed roll-on / roll-off access for bikes on the trains and had bike racks on all the buses. And I don't see how it would be all that much more costly.
I think it's not too bad for bikes. Not so much bike unfriendly as bike ignorant. If anyone's interested, here are the bike rules for DART. http://www.dart.org/riding.asp?zeon=howbike

If you are visiting the area, one thing to know is that the Trinity Railway commuter train, which runs from Dallas to Ft. Worth and services DFW airport (via a shuttle that takes you to the station) allows bikes at all times. The train-car closest to Dallas (east) always has spaces for bikes, if not a rack inside. And the personnel are actually friendly and helpful in contrast to the average DART employee.

Last edited by Anthony King; 06-26-05 at 11:04 PM.
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Old 06-26-05, 04:12 PM   #13
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I rarely use buses because they are so much slower than my bike, and not nearly as fun.. I don't always carry tire repair stuff in the city, so a couple times I have had to put my bike on the bus rack to get home. I take Greyhound buses to visit other cities in Michigan. Taxis are rarely used, maybe for emergencies or very rarely for major shopping expeditions. Sometimes I walk for a change, or if there is a major snow storm. I just almost always prefer the bicycle!
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Old 06-26-05, 05:04 PM   #14
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I use public transit every day. I've found combining buses and bikes is the ideal way to complete my 25 mile commute each way. For everything else - groceries, eating out, entertainment - I use the bike. I'm like Koffee in that on my overseas trips, I rely on the bus to/from the airport and the public transportation systems at my destination.
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Old 06-27-05, 12:22 AM   #15
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Roody. No tire repair kit..I get pretty far off of the beaten path sometimes...Can think of a couple ocassions I would have been stuck..Had calling and having someone rescue me..a sign of failure to depend upon a car for rescue, if one can avoid such.
'middle of mitten'..just a guess. Bad Axe..? thanks of the Navy Bean soup if so...
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Old 06-27-05, 02:40 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cyclezealot
Roody. No tire repair kit..I get pretty far off of the beaten path sometimes...Can think of a couple ocassions I would have been stuck..Had calling and having someone rescue me..a sign of failure to depend upon a car for rescue, if one can avoid such.
'middle of mitten'..just a guess. Bad Axe..? thanks of the Navy Bean soup if so...
I will certainly take the repair kit if I'm recreation riding or headed for the boonies. But when I'm in town the bus is never far away if I have a problem, and this thread was about using public transit. Anyway, I'm always within a couple miles of either home or work when commuting so walking the bike would be an easy option. I have never called for a ride yet either.

I'm not exactly in the middle of the mitten (I think Alma is, or maybe Ithaca) and Bad Axe is really in the middle of the "Thumb" of the mitten. Yes, navy beans and sugar beets, farmland as flat as a pool table. My location is Lansing, the state capital and the city that supposedly makes more autos than any other city in North America. Mostly Cadillacs now!
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Old 06-27-05, 02:45 PM   #17
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I do a lot of walking here in New Orleans, and sometimes I take the streetcar, which costs $1.25 per ride, any distance.
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Old 06-27-05, 06:32 PM   #18
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I'm lucky to live near fairly good public transit. I use the trains often on the weekend to go out at night and sometimes for commuting when I take a break from the bike. I use the bus less often, but we have bike racks here and they were useful a couple of times when I had a TWO flats and one spare and once for another mechanical problem.
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Old 06-27-05, 09:58 PM   #19
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I use the subway and lightrail every single day. In fact, I often don't even bike commute anymore because the lightrail is within walking distance. It's so relaxing to ride on smooth rails compared to a bus or even bike commuting! The lightrail is what made me stop bike commuting because the main boulevard is full of buses and crazed drivers during rush hour. Furthermore, there's no need to have a schedule because the lightrail comes by every 15 minutes! I can't speak highly of my 1.2 billion dollar electric train that effectively made me car free.

You would be surprised at how many people in my town still keep their cars even though we have one of the most expensive light rail systems in the nation. People just want to drive and won't think of alternatives like rail. The brainwashing by the television set on living a motorized lifestyle is complete.

During the weekends, the lightrail, subway and commuter rail lines enable me to bring my bicycle 50 - 100 miles out into the burbs. I'm able to shop in distant malls because the trains bring me within 5 miles or less of most shopping centers. It's incredible the freedom my bicyle gives me along with our rail lines.

Here's an easy way to be car free.

Find rail line and try to get a job near a train station. Then relocate to another station along the line. It's as simple as that and I did year several years ago and the only thing I regret is not having done it sooner!
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Old 06-27-05, 11:02 PM   #20
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Roody.Interested in your story because I am a former Michiganian. Glad to hear Lansing makes Cadillacs. When Oldsmobiles dried up, I was afraid Lansing would.
Silly me..'Thumb, mitten.' been too many years, since I more than just flew in, flew out of Michigan..
just got the feeling you emphasized agriculture and that in Mid-state, I for some reason thought Navy beans. Why..Midnight mindset , I guess.
Yes, Lansing would have some pretty decent mass transit.
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Old 06-27-05, 11:09 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roody
I rarely use buses because they are so much slower than my bike, and not nearly as fun.
I've taken the bus if the weather gets unexpectadley nasty, if my kids are with me in heavy rain or snow, or if I just don't feel like dealing with the weather (very rare). Otherwise, I'm with Roody -- bus is slower than bike for me.

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